SRINAGAR: A senior Hurriyat leader has created a flutter by saying that two separatist leaders and his brother were killed by "our own people" and not security agencies, prompting J&K government to term it as a "late admission" and a call for a probe to fix responsibility.
"No police was involved (in the killings).... It was our own people who killed them," former Hurriyat Conference chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said.
He said time had come to speak the truth about the killers of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone, who were shot dead in 2002, and his own brother Mohammad Sultan Bhat, who was murdered in 1995.
Asked to identify the killers, Bhat said, "What is the need to identify them.... they are already identified."
Farooq, father of the present chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was shot dead at his residence on May 21, 1990 while Lone, father of Hurriyat executive member Bilal Lone, was gunned down during a commemorative rally for the senior Mirwaiz on the same day in 2002.
The separatist leaders had earlier blamed the security forces for the killings.
Bhat said that his brother Mohammad Sultan Bhat also fell to the bullets of those espousing the separatist cause.
"I had said this then and I am saying it now. There is no ambiguity or confusion in my mind," he said.
Other moderate Hurriyat leaders chose to maintain a studied silence on Bhat's remarks.
The state government has held that then Hizbul Mujahideen commander Mohammad Abdullah Bangroo had killed Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq while a commander of Al-Umar Mujahideen had shot dead senior Lone.
Hizbul Mujahideen is considered to be ideologically inclined towards hardline Hurriyat faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani while Al Umar is believed to be the militant-wing of Awami Action Committee headed by the Mirwaiz.
Geelani refused to comment on the statements made by the former Chairman of the undivided Hurriyat Conference.
"I have nothing to say about their remarks," Geelani said.
CPM state secretary M Y Tarigami said Bhat's statement was "revealing" and the incidents need credible investigation.
"A credible investigation should be carried out so that responsibility for the killings is fixed," Tarigami said.
Sajjad Gani Lone, the youngest son of the slain leader, had blamed Geelani for the killing but retracted his statement few years later.
Jammu and Kashmir's DGP Kuldeep Khoda said that "the person involved in the killing of Mirwaiz Farooq is also buried in the same 'martyrs' graveyard' where the senior Mirwaiz was laid to rest".